I have a small garden for planting some vegetables at my home. Since the fall is near, I planted the radish that I love. When I planted the seed, I wondered whether the radish would sprout because the seed that I had was very old. Regardless of my worry, I found that the radish sprouted. I was very happy to see the bud of the radish. “It is alive!” I said to myself, “it looks very weak, but it will be a big radish soon!’ After seeing the bud, I had several thoughts and realized that this is a principle of the life from God. The life from God will come out as a bud once it is planted and watered. The life from God always comes out no matter what the appearance looks like!
I believe that the church is the same as a seed. God plants the life code in the church. Although the church looks like hopeless, once its life code works properly, we can see that the bud is coming into the world. This is a principle of the life of the church as shown in the book of Acts. Because the life code of the church, because the church is from God, it will sprout and grow up in all troubles. The life of church is from God. So, it is alive! This is the first message we hear from today’s passage!
We have chestnut trees in the backyard of our church. They were planted at least 5 years ago, but there were no fruit until last year. Thus, I thought that those trees might be useless. Surprisingly, I found that there were 2 chestnuts on the trees this year. Although the number of chestnuts were small, what I know is that we will get more fruits next years. This is the life from God.
God plants the life code in us. Some seeds in people will come out and speedily fructify and yield an abundant harvest. Some seeds may be very slow. However, we should know that we will produce many fruits in our lives because our life is from God. In His time, the people of God will produce the spiritual fruit in their lives. That is the principle of life that is from God.
2. If it is from God.
This is true for any work that we do. If it is from God, it will come out. If it is from God, it would not fail. But if not, it would not success. That was the speech of Gamaliel to the religion leaders in Sanhedrin (ver. 39). Yes. It is right! If God opens a door, nobody closes it. If God closes a door, nobody opens it. Anything God wants will happen. That is what we know to be true. It is a universally acknowledged fact that we can’t be bigger than God.
The problem we now have is, however, that we forget this fact easily. The religion leaders forget the fact. If it is from God, they could not stop the apostles; if it is not from God, the apostles would be scattered later. However, they forget this completely because they forget God. We can learn this from ver. 33.
“When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death”
Why were they furious? Because the apostles proclaimed that “The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead--whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.” In addition, they showed many miracles and wonders, which the religion leaders couldn’t do. That was the reason for why they were filled with jealousy (ver. 17). They didn’t want to lose their positions, wealth, and reputations because of the apostles. They worried about themselves, but not God. They were interested in their wills, but not God’s will. Although they would say that God did everything for them, they still wanted to control everything by themselves.
This was true for the Israelites. From the chapter 5 of Exodus, we found that the will of the Israelites was more important than that of God. They were very glad when they saw Moses and Aeron because they believed that God answered their prayers. However, very quickly, they were quite upset because the king Egypt forced them to work harder after the meeting with Moses.
Yesterday was hard for them. Today became worse than yesterday. Tomorrow will be the worst for them. This happened to the Israelites. They thought that if they believed in God, their life would become easy and in peace. However, this was not the case for them. It seemed their lives become harder and harder. Thus, they started to complain Moses and Aeron. They forgot God. They didn’t think about the will of God. However, we are not free for this. We easily forget the will of God. We forget who God is.
However, Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, and the apostles were different. They thought God first rather than man and themselves. This was the reason why Gamaliel spoke his opinion to the religion leaders with boldness. And God used Gamaliel to save the apostles. Through Gamaliel, God kept the life of the church. The history of the church was kept by the people who thought God first. We should remember this.
Thus, we should think the will of God first when we are in all troubles. We should expect the guidance of God through this situation. From the history of the church in today’s passage, we should learn about how important is to think God’s will, but not our will.
If God begins, nobody can’t stop Him. If God opens a door, nobody can close it. You should think of God first whatever your situation is. We should keep mind that the history of the church will be written by the people who think about God first, but not our desires and experiences.
Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.
As a body of Christ, let us think about God first whatever the situation is. This is a question that we should ask, “What would God do?” The question will open a new era of our church and also our life.
There is a Christian classical book, called ‘In His step: what would Jesus do?” This book was written by Charles M. Sheldon (1851-1946). As a pastor, he wrote this novel book for his congregations because he was shocked by the attitudes and responses of the Christians to a hopeless person who lost his job. He wanted his congregations to think God first. Thus, he asked himself and also his congregations to think this question, “What would Jesus do?”
Can you ask this question in all situation? Can you ask this question when you make an important decision? Can you ask this question day by day?
“What would Jesus do” “What would God do?”
The religion leaders were the people who supposed to live with God, but they lived regardless of God. Their feelings, their desires, and their positions were more important than God. So what happened? They tried to take off the life of people while Gamaliel who thought God first saved the life of people. We can save the life of people if we think God first. I hope that we can save the life of others.
3 The larger troubles the bigger comfort.
Because of Gamaliel, the apostles were not killed. They spread the words of God and the gospel to the Israelites with boldness. Through Gamaliel, God poured the grace to the apostles.
We can find some interesting response of the apostles in ver. 41-42.
“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”
Do you think that it makes sense to rejoice because of suffering disgrace? Their life was like a bumpy road. It was not easy road. That was the road of suffering. That was the road of the cross. However, they rejoiced that kind of the bumpy road. Their life was tough, but surprising, their life was full of joy. What happened? Why? If I were them, I would be tired; I would be hopeless; I would be disappointed. But they rejoiced because of all troubles they had.
We can find a reason from the book of 2 Chorines 1:3-5.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”
Do you see this, “as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives”? This described well what the apostle’s lives were. They encountered all troubles in their lives. But they didn’t become discouraged. Instead, they rejoiced because their comfort overflows through Christ.
I pray that the comfort through Christ will be upon your life also. This is a grace for the people who think God first. Be a person who try to find God’s will instead of complains. You can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort you have received from God. I ask the God of all comfort to give us His comfort in our lives also. Amen!